The third effort will deal with the distressed property in the downtown area. That will consist of a feasibility study of potential uses of dilapidated and unoccupied spaces, purchase and reuse projects in the designated areas. "How things look is important," said Arnold. "We need to get them to look right in order to get the most benefit. We are going to look at any place that's empty and try to figure out what is the best use of that space."
The downtown initiative will look at places like the Old Tin Lantern building, the old Eagles Lodge and a lot of the second floor loft space that is underutilized.
The combined projects could require as much as a $500,000 to complete. "This would be a combination of funds," said Arnold. "Some of it would come from private sources, some public donations and we will be seeking grants for some of it. We are serving as the catalyst to get it started."
Leaders believe that the projects to improve the community will have a positive impact on quality of life and make the area more attractive to potential employers. "We have done a study that found for workforce quality of life is a huge issue," said Arnold. "These are really good projects the community can support and we would like to see how many of them we can get completed in time for the city's bicentennial in 2016."
The Washington Times Herald is partnering with the Economic Development Foundation on the project. "We think this is a very worthwhile effort," said Times Herald Editor Melody Brunson. "We're excited to be a part of this and to support it."
Natalie Smith, project manager for the Daviess County Economic Development Foundation, Inc., is spearheading the effort. People wanting to support the initiative with either time or a monetary donation can contact her at the Daviess County Economic Foundation Office at 219 E. Main St. in Washington or by calling 812-254-1500.